Premier League 2018-19: Chelsea v Crystal Palace, Preview & Prediction
Chelsea will be looking to keep up with the leading pair in the Premier League with a win over Crystal Palace on Sunday. the Eagles, though, have enjoyed a decent season so far and ended Arsenal's winning run last weekend, so this game won't be as straightforward as many would expect.
Chelsea 3-2 Derby (Carabao Cup)
rank Lampard's return to Stamford Bridge was unsuccessful, but his Derby County players left with their heads held high, as they put up a fine fight against Chelsea. The Blues enjoyed the lion's share of possession and drew first blood thanks to an own goal from Fikayo Tomori after five minutes.
Derby's counter-attacking was extremely effective, though, and Jack Marriott equalised for the visitors before ten minutes had been played. Chelsea didn't waste time in retaking the lead, another own goal, this time from Richard Keogh.
Martyn Waghorn has been poor since joining the Rams in the summer, but he equalised just the half an hour mark. Cesc Fabregas got a rare start in this game, and the Spaniard got the winning goal just before half-time. Derby hung in the match during the second half, but couldn't find another goal, despite creating chances.
Chelsea will play Bournemouth in the quarterfinals.
Middlesbrough 1-0 Crystal Palace (Carabao Cup)
Crystal Palace were dumped out of the Carabao Cup by Middlesbrough on Wednesday. Palace had the majority of possession and chances, but in true Tony Pulis style, the Welsh manager's side pinched the win.
A stunning Lewis Wing strike just before half-time was a decisive goal after the hosts had been knocking on the door during most of the first period. The visitors piled on the pressure in the second half, but despite a decent effort from Andros Townsend.
Chelsea have a clean bill of health going into this one, and after resting key players in midweek, they'll be back to full strength on Sunday. Eden Hazard should return to the starting lineup after missing out in the last few games.
Aside from that, it's the same eleven which thrashed Burnley last week should be going down the Stamford Bridge tunnel on Sunday afternoon. Ross Barkley has been impressive in recent weeks and will be trying to get on the scoresheet again, as will Alvaro Morata who has usurped Olivier Giroud at the top of the striker's pecking order.
Crystal Palace should be unchanged from their previous league match, pending the fitness of their star Wilfried Zaha. He picked up a shoulder injury in last week's clash with Arsenal but manager Roy Hodgson remains confident of the Ivorian recovering in time.
Townsend and Jordan Ayew will be looking to cause Chelsea problems in their respective positions.
Key Player: Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard should be fit to face Crystal Palace on Sunday, and the Belgian will be looking to hit the ground running by continuing his excellent form so far this season. He's been one of the best performers in the Premier League, scoring seven times and assisting on three occasions in just nine matches.
Palace offers Hazard the chance to potentially get a hat-trick, such is the Belgian's ability, but the Eagles back-line will be focussing on stopping him for the whole 90 minutes.
Title bid for Chelsea?
Three top-flight teams being unbeaten after ten games have only happened on a handful of occassions in English football, but that's the scenario we find ourselves in. Chelsea are one of those sides and are 2 points behind league leaders Manchester City and Liverpool going into this one.
With nearly three-quarters of the matches still to be played, there's plenty of time for Maurizio Sarri's men to catch the pacesetters. Sarri has never won a major trophy during his managerial career, but is definitely in with a shout in his first year in England, with the Blues still going strong in both the Europa League and Carabao Cup.
Prediction: Chelsea 3-1 Crystal Palace
Despite Palace's decent performances of late, I can't look past Chelsea for the win here. The Blues simply have too much quality and are in such good form of late, that I don't envisage them slipping up in this one. That being said, I'll be surprised to see Kepa keeping a clean sheet, especially if Zaha plays like he's expected to.